Google's Schmidt Backs Cybersecurity Firm Illusive Networks

A new cybersecurity firm backed by Google Chairman Eric Schmidt is hoping to beat hackers at their own game by focusing less on the tools they use and more on the people behind the attacks.

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The company, Tel Aviv-based illusive networks, hopes to defend organizations against future breaches by throwing false information into hackers’ paths, while keeping actual data protected.

“As successful attackers move towards their target, they rely on one simple fact — that the data they collect is accurate,” said Shlomo Touboul, illusive networks’ CEO. “What if we tamper with that data and create an environment where attackers can’t rely on the information they gather. If the information is unreliable, the attack cannot move forward.”

Going on Offense

The company’s solution prevents targeted attacks and advanced persistent threats by proactively “baiting” an organization’s ITnetwork with a layer of deception. When an attacker acts upon baited information, illusive’s technology both neutralizes the attack and instantly triggers a breach report, enabling security administrators to detect, track and contain the attack in its early stages.

It also provides security administrators real-time forensics information, collected at the moment attackers take the bait and before they have time to clean their tracks. Because illusive triggers breach reports only when attackers act on false information, security administrators theoretically do not have to worry about being flooded with millions of daily “false positive” alerts.

“Illusive is nothing like honeypots or honeynets,” said Ofer Israeli, founder and vice president of R&D. “Illusive’s ‘deception everywhere’ technology takes a virtual brush and paints a deceptive layer of honey over the entire network. Every real endpoint, server and network component is coated with deception, creating an alternate reality that neutralizes the attacker.”

Team8’s First Company

The company announced today that it has just raised $5 million from Team8, a cybersecurity incubator located in Tel Aviv and backed by Schmidt’s venture capital firm Innovation Endeavors, along with other investors such as Alcatel-Lucent, Cisco, Marker LLC, and Bessemer Venture Partners. Illusive will be the first company to come out of Team8, which is closely tied to the Israeli Army’s Unit 8200, a signal’s intelligence agency similar to the NSA.

Gartner has applauded illusive’s new take on cybersecurity, saying that deceptive security technologies can provide a complementary approach to enterprise security. According to Gartner, there is an increasing interest by information security officers to apply commercial approaches to deceiving and trapping hackers by presenting false information on files, applications and other system information.

Gartner recommended that IT and security managers consider the benefits of illusive since similar deception methods will likely prove to be effective and easy to deploy, and become more prevalent in the future. The company’s solution is already implemented across several financial institutions, retailers, healthcare providers and telecommunication companies both in Israel and the United States. Illusive said it has already detected numerous advanced targeted attacks that went undetected by other security solutions.